Case #440

DATE: April 6, 2006
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. The Student


Hearing Date(s): November 15, 2005 and November 16, 2005

Panel Members:
Ms Julie Hannaford, Chair
Professor Markus Bussmann, Faculty Panel Member
Ms Saimah Aleem, Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Ms Linda Rothstein, for the University
Mr. Robert Centa, for the University
Ms Emily Lawrence, for the University
The Student
Mr. Rob Wakulat, for the Student

Trial Division - s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of Code – plagiarism – course work purchased from commercial provider of essays – guilty plea – Agreed Statement of Facts – integrity of Code debased by cheating through commercial transactions – enterprise of purchasing work and severity of threat recognized – difficulty of detection required message to be sent about severity of offence and commitment to eradication - severity of sanction not diminished by its inability to curtail commercial providers of essays – serial offences - understanding of severity and seriousness of offences not acquired – adverse medical and personal circumstances not sufficiently connected to offence nor sufficient in kind to reasonably give rise to suspension of judgment - assignment of zero for two courses; recommendation that the Student be expelled as per s. C.ii.(b)(i) of Code ; and report to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted plagiarized course work, including two term papers and a term test in two courses, which she had purchased from a commercial provider of academic essays. The Student admitted to having to committed the offences set out in s. B.i.1(d) and s. B.i.1(b) of the Code. The Parties agreed on the facts relating to the offences. The Panel considered the parties’ submissions and accepted the Student’s guilty plea. The Panel considered the nature of the offence, the detriment that was occasioned and the need to deter others from committing a similar offence and found that the offence of cheating, when compounded by the fact that it came about through a commercial transaction, demeans the pursuit of original thought and debases the integrity of the Code and the attempts to protect learning in a fair and honest environment. The Panel found that the failure to recognize the “enterprise” of purchasing work for submission threatens the integrity and respect necessary to maintain the University community and that the failure to recognize the severity of the threat would be punitive to honest member of that community. The Panel observed that the difficulty of detecting the offence made it imperative that sanctions have an import that sent a message to the community about the severity of the offence, and the commitment of the University community to its eradication. The Panel found that the fact that punishing the product of the cheating enterprise did not curtail the commercial providers of essays was not a reason to diminish the severity of the sanction. The Panel considered the serial nature of the Student’s offences, the Student’s initial denial and subsequent excuses offered to the University, and the Student’s explanation for committing the offences and found that the Student had not acquired a genuine understanding of the severity of the offences. The Panel found that the adverse medical and personal circumstances encountered by the Student were not sufficiently connected to the occurrence of the offence nor was that adversity sufficient in kind to reasonably give rise to the suspension of otherwise sound judgment. The Panel imposed a grade of zero in the two courses; a recommendation to the President, further to s. C.ii.(b)(i) of the Code, that the Student be expelled; and that a report be issued to the Provost.